The unconscious mind is a vast, mostly unexplored space that often comes to life when we are asleep.
One of the most dramatic, life-changing things for me happened when someone I was seeing in therapy charged me with asking "The Dream Maker" to come and visit me when I was asleep at night.
"Ask her to give you an image of yourself doing what it is you think you are supposed to be doing," she said.
Sounds easy, right? Not so.
Then, I had to get past my sense of the ridiculous in asking this "Dream Maker" to "visit" with me - while I was asleep.
I mean, it sounds positively batty, doesn't it?
Finally, after having the dream, I had to be willing to wake up, write down my dream, and then share my dream with my therapist so together we might be able to interpret the images and symbols and actions in the dream.
It all seemed fairly daunting - when not flat out ridiculous - but I gave it a try.
At first, nothing happened. For weeks, it seemed, nothing happened.
Or, at least, nothing that I remembered or could report.
"Have you ever had a dream that you liked?" my therapist asked. "Or, one that perhaps you're not so fond of but it comes to you anyway?"
Why, yes, I said.
I have had this recurring dream that I am standing on a very tall building. I think it's in New York City but I can't really be sure. At least, I don't see any familiar landmarks, but it must be because that's the city I associate with very tall buildings. It doesn't seem to matter to me in my dream.
I'm standing very close to the edge and I can feel the wind blowing on my face and through my hair. I am not afraid of heights, but I don't especially like them. And yet, in my dreams, I'm without any anxiety or concern or fear.
I don't know what I'm doing there, up so high on that very tall building, but I know that I'm supposed to be there. I'm exactly where I ought to be. Of this, I am quite certain. Nothing else seems to matter.
I look down and I can see people on the sidewalk. They look very tiny, but as I move closer to the edge, I can see some of their faces.
I can hear a murmur of concerned voices. Others are nervously giggling and saying derisive things. I step up to the ledge and stretch out my arms like wings. I hear some of them gasp. I am calm and unconcerned.
Slowly, deliberately, I move forward as the crowd gasps. Someone yells with great alarm, "She's going to jump!"
I wait for just the right moment - the right feel of the wind, the beating of my heart, the lightness of my body - and then, I lean forward as I feel my body leave the ledge and begin to fall into the sky.
I am floating gracefully as the crowd gasps, but as I get nearer to them, I pick up my head, lift my arms just so, and begin to soar upwards. I lean to the left and then to the right, gently swooping and soaring before I begin to return to the ledge.
I circle and circle and circle the crowd, to their gasps of concern and applause of delight. Someone says something about calling the police or an ambulance. Still, I soar and swoop and fly.
And then, my dream ends.
I've had this dream many times. Sometimes, I ask the Dream Maker for it to return. I know it is an anxiety dream. Risk-takers often get them. Well, not in this exact form, but the themes are there. I suspect it's one way risk-takers assure ourselves that we're going to be okay.
It's also quite grandiose, isn't it? I don't know how to take a risk without someone criticizing that you've over-stepped your bounds, or that you've got a 'big ego', or that you're selfish in not being concerned about others who care about you and your safety.
And, it's admittedly, unashamedly narcissistic. Then again, all dreams are. Jung said that we are every person in our dreams, and every person in our dreams represents a part of us.
A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you're fast asleep." Like all little girls, we were carefully taught to dream for our Prince Charming to come and sweep us off our feet and carry us back to the Castle where we would live "happily ever after".
What we learned is that "happily ever after" is a crock. And, we learned that you can't live someone else's dream, much less someone else's idea of what a dream is for you.
What I've also learned is that, if you can dream it or imagine it, you have a better chance of making it happen. In many cases, we do create our own reality - through our dreams.
Indeed, what I've learned is that, if you can see yourself doing something and you believe it, others will see it, too.
It's a very powerful lesson about the power of the unconscious and the power of dreams. As Cinderella sings:
In dreams you will lose your heartachesMy grandmother would hear me sing that, twirling around in my stocking feet on her kitchen floor like the princess I dreamed I would be, and she'd harumph, "Wishes don't wash dishes."
Whatever you wish for, you keep
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling thru
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
the dream that you wish will come true
She was right, of course.
Without dreams and wishes, however, life is dull and often seems meaningless. Indeed, without hope, we perish.
In one of the Morning Prayer Suffrages in The Book of Common Prayer, we say,
V. Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgottenI'm afraid we in the Church have lost touch with the power of dreams.
R. Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
Indeed, the problem with the Church is not lack of money or resources.
The problem with the Church is that we lack imagination and creativity.
Don't believe me? Here, read Bonnie Anderson, the President of the House of Deputies, and what she had to say as Executive Council convened today.
I believe that the best way to find out what the future looks like is to invest where we know that mission and ministry is already most effective and closest to God’s people.
Let’s reduce the amount that we ask dioceses to send to the Church Center. Let’s study the best use of the building at 815 Second Avenue with an eye to freeing up for mission the $7.7 million dollars that is earmarked for facilities cost and debt repayment during the next triennium. Let’s expect that dioceses and their networks know best how to build up God’s church and support ministry where it is most effective. And as we change the budget, let’s acknowledge that we also need to change our models of accountability and responsibility to be mutual and respectful of the entire people of God, not just those with ecclesial power.
|MKL's 'I have a dream' in 'Wordle'.|
This is the stuff of the dream of our baptismal vows.
It's time for us to roll up our sleeves and "follow our dreams to reach our goals and follow our goals to reach our dream."
Yes, it's scary stuff. Sort of like jumping off a tall building and expecting to be able to fly.
Edward Teller, a nuclear physicist once said,
When you get to the end of all the light you know and it's timeActually, I think all dreams are little bits and pieces of God's dream in the first place.
to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing
that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given
something solid to stand on,or you will be taught how to fly.
Dreams are just an occasional peak into the mind and heart of the divine within each and every one of us. They happen when we're asleep because we couldn't bear the truth of them when we're wide awake.
So, c'mon, church. Have some faith.
Dream a little dream with me.
Who knows? We may just step out on that ledge and, together, learn to fly.